People in British Columbia who received AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD as their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will have the option of which vaccine they will receive as their second.
The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon during a press conference involving Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
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Henry says that while it’s preferable to receive the same vaccine for both doses, research now shows that it is “safe and effective” to have a different vaccine if necessary.
“This approach is based on scientific evidence and on the guidance of NACI and our BC Immunization Committee,” she explained. “You will have a choice for your second dose here, starting next week.”
She also took a moment to thank the almost 280,000 people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, reassuring them that they had made the right choice.
“AstraZeneca is an important and lifesaving part of our BC Immunization Program and it was absolutely essential when we had high case rates and increased transmission.”
People who wish to receive an AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD vaccine will be able to receive it through BC’s pharmacy program. Henry explained that health officials are working with the BC Pharmacy Association to ensure that locations have adequate quantity, as well as the operational capacity to administer second doses.
A second dose of AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD can be received after eight weeks of the initial dose and will be available at pharmacies starting Monday.
Henry said people will be contacted by the pharmacy that issued their first dose. British Columbians are being asked not to contact pharmacies and said they won’t accept appointments if people call in advance.
The other option is to receive an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, as a second dose. Similarly, this will be open to people after eight weeks of their initial vaccine dose and will be available at the many immunization clinics that are set up around BC. This program will also begin on Monday.
More to come…